Music to Write By – The Foll Stones

I’ve been working on The Foll Stones for over 10 years. I started it before my daughter was born, took a long hiatus until after the birth of my son, and finished the first draft during my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. So you can imagine that the playlist for this work is long and varied!

Before I share my favorite pieces from the playlist, here is a bit about The Foll Stones:

When 19-year-old Cleona Willow and her childhood friend Brian are magically pulled from their sleepy Vermont town and thrust into the ancient land of Terratalam, they must join the quest to unite the mythical Foll Stones, or risk being trapped in the strange world forever.

The Music

One of the first scenes that I envisioned is quite dramatic. There’s a swamp, a challenge, and a life-threatening drop. The music that plays is Injection by Hans Zimmer. It’s from Mission Impossible II, of all things. It doesn’t really get good until minute 1:30 (sorry Hans).

The next of many favorites is “Ron Leaves” by Alexandre Desplat. It’s from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, although I’ve forgotten which one. It’s so beautiful and sad and simply perfect for The Foll Stones. There’s a fair amount of bittersweet moments in this novel, and this music is perfection.

Okay more bittersweet coming at you. This piece is called “Remembering Jenny” by Christophe Beck. It’s from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer soundtrack. It’s sooo good. It’s short, but man the feels it evokes. Incidentally, Christophe Beck composed the score for Frozen. Not the songs or anything, but the beautiful music that plays when the parents are lost at sea? Christophe. Also, when the animated Christophe is running across the ice? Christophe. Okay, enough. On to the beauty.

There are many more songs on my list for this novel. As it comes closer to completion, I’ll be sharing more. I hope you enjoyed this peek inside my musical inspiration!

50,000 Words

Another pseudo-version of me – typing.

It’s November, which means it’s NaNoWriMo! What is NaNoWriMo you ask? It’s National Novel Writing Month, when a bunch of writers the world over try to write 50,000 words in one month. Check out their official website here.

I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year, because, life. But I love keeping up with other writers’ progress all the same. It gives me a creative boost just to think about all my fellow writers out there, working so hard this month to realize their dreams.

It’s also got me thinking about 50,000 words. I am not sure I have ever reached that goal. A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods is a novella, around 35,000 words. The current draft of Fidelity is 49,500 words. The Foll Stones is stalling out at 49,000. It seems I have trouble hitting that magical number – 50,000.

Why 50,000? Because that’s the average novel length. And to be honest, that’s pretty short. I’ll give you an example. One of my all time favorite books, A Wrinkle in Time, is about 50,000 words. I would not consider that to be a long book.

It’s really got me thinking. Maybe my style is just succinct. In fact, this is not a new thing for me. In college, my papers would rarely reach the requested number of pages. I would fall short by half a page or so, almost every time! I remember worrying about it, and speaking to my professor and advisor, Dr. Germaine Murray. She reassured me that I said what I needed to say and supported my ideas with fewer words, which was perfectly fine.

Now, a novel is not the same as a research paper. However, I’ve started to think about the possibility that I may not write long novels. Maybe shorter work is just my style. As a new writer, it’s hard to know when something is my style, and when something is happening because I’m a novice. For now, I’ll keep working on my 45,000 average. Perhaps I’ll hit that magic number this month, during the amazing creative juju of NaNoWriMo.

A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods – Now on Kindle Unlimited!

My book is now available through Kindle Unlimited 🙂

I am super excited to let you all know that A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods is now available through Kindle Unlimited. If you don’t know, Kindle Unlimited is a program through Amazon in which you pay one monthly price and can read as many KU books as you want.

I’m excited for this next stage for my little book!

Beta Reading Is Amazing

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I recently sent two different works to complete strangers for a beta read. For those of you who don’t know, beta readers are fellow writers who volunteer to read through your work. They offer constructive criticism and feedback. I had never participated in either end of the process, so I decided it was high time.

The result has been truly worthwhile. I have received incredibly helpful notes and ideas. Throughout the many years that I have been writing, I have followed the same process. I write and revise, write and revise. It is always me looking at each successive draft. Not only did it keep me from moving forward with my writing, but it kept me from seeing new possibilities within my own work.

I also decided to take on some work as a beta reader. It has been more fun and informative than I thought it would be! I find it really interesting to read other author’s works in progress. To see what people are working on, before an editor gets to it, has been great. And the whole process has given me a stronger sense of community.

And you know what? The writing community is amazing, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.

Music to Write By – Fidelity

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For my third installment of Music to Write by I’ll be highlighting a few of the pieces I have listened to while writing my latest work. I’m calling it Fidelity right now.

Let’s set the scene

In order to appreciate the music, here is the blurb for the novel. You know, the back of the book copy that draws you in and makes you buy the book (well, hopefully).

When computer programmer Sora Leroux intercepts secret plans to destroy the upcoming peace accords with an alien nation, she doesn’t know whom to trust. One thing she does know, however, is that she’s in danger. She decides to run, but the Special Ops captain sent to track her down has other plans.

Captain Graham Smith has been sent bring in Sora Leroux, a woman implicated in a terrorist threat. When new information reveals a greater conspiracy, Graham must decide who is telling the truth as he races to save London from a hidden threat.

Piece the first

Okay, I must start with the piece of music that started it all. Biplane by Andrew Lockington. This piece is from the movie The Space Between Us (worth a look, if you’ve never seen it). A pivotal scene of the novel came to me while I was listening to this track. It gets amazing at minute 1:50. Wait for it.

It’s sweeping, it’s adventurous, it’s romantic. I love it. I was sitting in my son’s room, helping him fall asleep by just being there, listening to this piece. And I pictured Sora and Graham. So thanks Andrew Lockington.

Piece the second

The second piece that was super inspiring is “I Feel You” by Alan Silvestri from Avengers: Endgame. If you’ve seen this movie, you might remember this part. I love it. But I love the music even more.

Is that not just wonderful? Okay, I’ll admit it — I love dramatic, sweeping pieces. Throw in some strings and I’m done for. I Feel You is the score behind a very important scene in the novel. There may be explosions. There may be declarations. I love it.

There you have it. My two major pieces for Fidelity. The ones I have listened to on a loop. Other works on my playlist include the soundtrack to The Martian by Harry Gregson-Williams, Man of Steel by Hans Zimmer, and The Host by Antonio Pinto.

If you’re interested in the first two posts of this series, check them out here and here.

Writing Research is the Best Research

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I often have to do a bit of research for my writing. This latest novel, which is set here on Earth in the near-ish future, required some digging into some interesting topics. I’m currently researching types of explosives (and wondering if I’m getting myself placed on a watch list somewhere). Before that, it was the city of Plymouth in England. This same story called for information about the Banana River in Florida, and the Darling River in Australia.

At one point, my heroin needs a place to stay in London and she chooses to stay at a bed and breakfast. I knew just what I was looking for (and indeed, what I had already written), and I wanted to find something like it in London. I guess I thought it would be cool if something that it were realistic and available. Well guess what? I found it!

I give you, The Hurlingham Bed & Breakfast:

I mean…wow.
Perfection

It is simply lovely looking. Now, most of you know that I have never been to London, or England, or anywhere except a small town in Canada. No matter! I have Google maps and street view. Using my super tech skills (haha), I did some sleuthing and realized that this lovely, perfect, idyllic gem of a place is just too far from the hospital in downtown London that I chose for some important scenes.

Not to be stumped, I decided to do a bit more research and find something closer. And ta-da! I found a hip, affordable hostel that I would absolutely stay in if I didn’t have to share a room with strangers (sorry, it’s a thing).

I give you, The Horse & Stables:

It just says ‘London’ to me.

This place is an awesome looking hostel right in the heart of London. It’s situated across the Thames from the Palace of Westminster. Westminster is also a key location in my novel, so that was a plus. The Horse & Stables looks really cool. Sort of hip. I mean, check out these other photos:

Totally slick, but not the right fit for my heroin. What’s an author to do? Smash ’em together and bend the truth! So while my bed and breakfast isn’t exactly either of these, it was inspired by both of them. Add these two spots to my (very) long list of places to visit once I get to England!

A Snippet from a Story Without a Name

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Works in Progress Can Stay in Progress…Forever

Here’s the thing with works in progress. If I’m not careful, my works in progress can stay in limbo forever. Not being edited, not be published, just percolating. I have a story I’ve been working on for ten years, one I’ve been working on for about twelve, and one that has only been in the works for less than a year.

I’m currently revising this one, which I’ve called Fidelity. I really don’t like the title, but I do love this story. There’s adventure, romance, aliens, and technology. It needs work though. As I work on revisions, I thought it would be fun to post a little bit from one of the early chapters. Have a read, and let me know what you think.

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Excerpt from Fidelity

“Sora, I need those latest files sorted and delivered to the appropriate departments within the hour.”

She felt a surge of annoyance.  Whittle new darn well that she was the fastest tech on the floor.  But she tamped it down and said only, “Of course, Mr. Whittle.”

Whittle wrung his hands in a practiced manner.  “Your uncle asked me especially to make sure you kept up on your work, Sora.”

Sora gaped at him.  She knew Uncle Victor had been chummy with Mr. Whittle, but to ask that he check up on her?  That he made sure she got her work done?  That was absurd.  She was nearly twenty-two, and had been taking care of herself since her and Toma’s parents had left when she was nineteen.  She closed her mouth, her face flushed with anger, but she forced herself to take a deep breath.

“The files will be sent within the next twenty minutes, Mr. Whittle.  Is there anything else you needed?”

A little flustered by her direct response, Whittle only mumbled a negative and wandered off to micromanage someone else.

Okay then. If Whittle and her uncle needed these files sent right away, then she had no choice.  She tapped on the abnormal file and dragged it to the open application.

She knew immediately that something was wrong.

This was no inventory list.  It was an unreadable text file.  But it wasn’t an error—this file had been security scrambled.  At first, Sora thought it was a secure transmission that had been mislabeled.  But she didn’t recognize any of the security codes the author had used.

Indecision snaked through her, and she glanced over her shoulder to make sure Mr. Whittle had truly gone.

How could she know how to direct this if she didn’t decode it?  Yes, it might be classified data, but it was mislabeled. Surely that wouldn’t come back on her? Screw it.

A few tabs of the keypad and her console was running the decoding algorithms.  The computer beeped as it processed the first page. It was a data file—a blueprint.  Sora puzzled over the details of the unknown structure, but she couldn’t make it out.

The computer beeped again.  This next image file was of a map, and one she recognized.  It was London. Blueprints and maps of London? It made no sense.  Just when Sora was beginning to think that someone’s personal vacation plans got scrambled in the ether, the computer beeped again.

This was a text file.  They were directions. Detailed directions on how to plant a soft bomb so that it wouldn’t trigger security protocols.

Sora felt her heart began to race.  She took a shaky breath. Soft bombs were incredibly lethal.  They had been banned since the end of World War III, over 60 years ago.  Who would even have the ability to procure the components? And what were the planning to do with it?

With a sickening jolt, Sora understood.  The Dendriforms. The soft bomb was to destroy the Dendriform delegation.  To halt the peace talks. That had to be it. But a bomb like that wouldn’t just kill the Dendriforms, it would reduce London to ashes.